Trisha’s Take: Using the Force as a force of good

Katie poses with her very own custom Star Wars drawing by Scott Zirkel (c) Carrie Goldman

When Carrie Goldman wrote about her daughter Katie who was teased when she brought her Star Wars-themed water bottle to school because “Star Wars is for boys, and not girls,” and the Internet and cast and crew members from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” proved that was most definitely not the case, I kept a close eye on the story.

Even though I’m not specifically a Star Wars fan, I do know what it’s like to be bullied or teased for looking and sounding or just being different from the other kids I grew up with. When I was younger, I lived in a pretty suburban area in Orange County, California. From when I was in kindergarten to when I was in the sixth grade, I had quite a few strikes against me: a) I’m Asian, b) I was smart, and c) I had (and still do have) a bit of a speech impediment.

Even now, as a grown woman working in a somewhat posh office in downtown Manhattan, I often feel awkward because I don’t dress like the other women who work in the office, and almost all of my geeky pop culture references go completely over the heads of the other people I work with. To throw in some more pop culture references, in an office full of Joan Holloways, I am a Peggy Olsen.

Having said that, I think even adult geeks can take heart from Goldman’s most recent update about Katie:

As I tried to coax her into putting on the patch [to help control her amblyopia], I remembered that one of the comments to Katie in the Anti-Bullying article was from a man who called himself the One-Eyed Jedi, because he was born with only one eye. I told Katie about him, and she immediately stopped crying. She began asking me questions about him, and as her focus shifted from herself to him, she was able to calm down and put on her patch.

The next morning, when she protested wearing the patch, I told her about a woman who had written about how she had suffered from scoliosis as a child and needed to wear a brace. Again, Katie was able to move outside of her unhappiness and put on her patch.

and

Katie is learning how to reach out to help other children in the same way that she has been helped.  A mother named Emily called to tell me that her first grade son was recently teased for bringing My Little Pony for show and tell.  She said he was terribly upset by the incident, and when I told Katie about it, she called to leave a message for the child.

She said, “I am Katie.  I like Star Wars, and you like My Little Pony.  I know other boys who like to play with My Little Pony, and it’s great, and umm, May the Pony Be With You!” she finished proudly.

Today in Evanston, Illinois at Katie’s school, they will be holding a Proud To Be Me Day where they will be “encouraging all students to wear something that represents their special interests regardless of gender (i.e. a girl in a Star Wars shirt or a boy in a princess shirt).” And over 28,000 geeks on Facebook have pledged to wear their own Star Wars shirts today as well, to support the idea that it’s perfectly okay to be a geek.

But even better than that, Goldman asked in a different follow-up article that “each person who decides to wear a Star Wars item also make a donation of a single Star Wars/science fiction toy to a shelter or hospital on December 10th.  (And please specify that the toy can go to a girl OR a boy, not just a boy).” I personally believe a great way to honor that request would be to check out the children’s hospital wishlists over at Child’s Play or to see if there’s an organization like the New York City-based Winter Wishes in your area, and donate.

And no matter what flavor of geek you are, I think that’s something we can all get behind.

Posted on December 10, 2010 at 09:26 by Trisha Lynn · Permalink
In: Around the Intertubes, Opinions/Editorials · Tagged with: , , ,